Vegetarian Chickpea Meatballs

PHOTO: KATHRYN PFEFFER-SCANLAN, MS, RD

Meatballs were always a favorite growing up. After losing my mother in high school, I so clearly remember being her sous chef during childhood, and getting my hands dirty in the kitchen. I remember the texture and smells of the raw onion and Italian seasonings even to this day!

When I started thinking about my own version of vegetarian meatballs I wanted to replicate those memories. My first attempt used lentils for a good protein source, but the “meatballs” came out shapeless and too gooey before baking and then too dry on the outside afterward; they reminded me of a delicious falafel, but not a meaty meatball.

In doing some research I noticed many vegetarian meatball versions with chickpeas and thought, why not? I used soy sauce and tomato paste for a sweet and savory flavor, and decided to use raw onion since it was so similar to my mother’s recipe.

These vegetarian meatballs are excellent as a sandwich filling, a bite-size snack and on top of pasta.  They pack in only 45 calories with 2 grams each protein and fiber per meatball. This recipe makes up to 20 meatballs that can be refrigerated for up to four days and frozen for three months.

I hope these healthy, vegetarian meatballs satisfy your cravings!


Vegetarian Chickpea Meatballs

Makes 18-20 small meatballs; serving size: 4-5 meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 15-ounce can drained and rinsed chickpeas
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup frozen spinach
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, optional
  • ¼ to ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 large egg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Set aside an oiled or non-stick cookie sheet.
  2. Combine all ingredients except egg in a food processor. Once combined, adjust seasonings to taste.
  3. Add egg and pulse until thoroughly blended.
  4. Use hands or a cookie scooper to form small meatballs, about 1-inch in diameter, and place on pan.
  5. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, flipping after 15 to 20 minutes for even browning. Remove from oven and enjoy!
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Katie Pfeffer-Scanlan
Katie Pfeffer-Scanlan, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical Registered Dietitan in Boulder, CO. She also runs her own food blog called One Hungry Bunny. Follow her on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.